Tim Rollins and K.O.S. Slave Girl, (2008).
“A woman with Iron Horns and Bells on, to keep her from running away”
Source: Moses Roper, A narrative of the adventures and escape of Moses Roper from American slavery (London, 1837)
As shown on http://www.slaveryimages.org, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.
Harriet Powers (1837-1910) was an African American slave and folk artist that would find recognition for her complicated quilt work. Sadly only two of her quilts survive today; they are her Bible Quilt (1886) and her Pictorial Quilt (1898) which can be found at the National Museum of American History and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, respectively. Her quilts would make their first public debut in 1886 at a cotton fair. Impressed by the work, a teacher at the Lucy Cobb Institute named Jennie Smith offered to buy Powers’s Bible Quilt; she refused to sell it but would after five years due to financial necessity. At the time of the sell, Powers explained the imagery on the quilt and Smith recorded their meaning. The origin of the second quilt is not as clear, but it is known to have been presented to the chairman of the board of trustees at Atlanta University in 1898. Her quilts are renowned for their rich storytelling and African and African American stylistic influences. Her figures are intricately stitched appliques and celestial bodies figure heavily in her work. Although we do have recordings of the meanings of her works, it is not known how much influence the recorders had on the meanings. It is possible that Powers originally intended to use her quilts as a way to teach Biblical stories despite being illiterate. In 2009 she would be inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement.
Cargo is the seventh in a series of inspired collaborations between two of South Africa’s most exciting movement theatre companies, Jazzart Dance Theatre and Magnet Theatre. It uses performance to re-imagine the archive of slavery in the Cape, bringing it to the attention of a wider audience while linking the past to our present reality.
Cudjoe Lewis is believed to be the last African born on African soil and brought to the United States by the transatlantic slave trade. He was a native of Takon, Benin, where he was captured in 1860 during an illegal slave-trading venture. Congress outlawed the importation of slaves in 1808. Together with more than a hundred other captured Africans, he was brought on the ship Clotilde to Mobile, Alabama. Cudjoe and 31 other enslaved Africans were taken to the property owned by Timothy Meaher, shipbuilder and owner of the Clotilde. 5 years later slavery was over so Cudjoe and his tribespeople requested to be taken back to Africa, but it was left ignored. He and other Africans established a community near Mobile, Alabama which became called Africatown. They maintained their African language and tribal customs well into the 1950s. He died in 1934 at the age of 94. Before he died, he gave several interviews on his experiences including one to the writer Zora Neale Hurston. During her interview in 1928, she made a short film of Cudjoe, the only moving image that exists in the Western Hemisphere of an African transported through the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Between Zora and Du Bois… seriously. They did everything I can only hope to be able to scratch the surface of doing.
Nothing I or you ever do will match this. Effing amazing.
Druella Jones or “Aunt Jonas,” Alabama, 1915
Essie Collins Matthews, Aunt Phebe, Uncle Tom and Others: Character Studies Among the Old Slaves of the South, Fifty Years After: illustrated from photographs made by the author in the cabins and on the plantations (Columbus, Ohio, 1915)
Photograph of ex-slave Jones at the age of 94. “She and two others were the only old slaves I found who were not loyal to their owners. During the [civil] war she tried to burn her master’s house” (Matthews).
as shown on www.slaveryimages.org, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.
Gabrielle Foreman, literary historian, professor at University of Delaware and author of Activist Sentiments: Reading Black Women in the Nineteenth Century and Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (Penguin Classics 2005), creates a video essay about how gathering artifacts of our ancestors, and in her case, memories of black women’s history, helps to “create our justice daily.”
This is one of the very earliest known works to depict a freed slave in the United States and the earliest known painting of a Muslim in America.
Yarrow Mamout, 1819 is an exceptionally rare portrait painted by Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) depicting an aged man who had been born in Guinea in western Africa, taken into slavery in the American colonies and later freed by his owner.
Coffee Sorters, Cuba (ca. 1866)
Great care is used in sorting so as to secure the best of coffee, free from dirt, pebbles, and decayed berries. This is done by the Negro women… . They are arranged on two sides of a long table, in a well-lighted room … . twenty or thirty of these women … picking away from the great piles of beans before them, and filling huge baskets with the bright green grain, keeping up all the time a monotonous chanting, in which each one takes a part .
—Samuel Hazard, Cuba with Pen and Pencil (Hartford, Conn., 1871).
(Text and image taken from the University of Virginia’s The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record. Cuba abolished slavery in 1886.)